January is Dog Walking Month, and to celebrate we’re taking a look at Paws for Progress – a charitable organisation founded by an alumna during her time at Stirling.

Paws for Progress is a pioneering charitable organisation, stemming from Dr Rebecca Leonardi’s PhD project at the University of Stirling in 2011.

Best known for developing the UK’s first prison-based rescue dog training programme, Paws for Progress specialise in providing educational and therapeutic programmes that improve the lives of both people and dogs.

During the pandemic, Paws for Progress are playing a key role in reducing isolation and improving the mental health and well-being of their beneficiaries at HMP and YOI Polmont. Their team of friendly ‘Ambassadogs’ have helped people cope by providing a positive focus, both remotely during the lockdowns and in person when it’s safe to do so!

“Being back at Paws is amazing! But the support you’ve given us over lockdown has been an absolute godsend, helped me so much to cope and keep a positive focus, at a time when other support was limited.” PfP beneficiary, 2020.

Connect with Paws for Progress on social media via @PawsforProgress and visit them online to learn more.

We’ll be catching up with Suzanne Ruby, 2014 BA (Hons) Psychology graduate and Operations Manager at Paws for Progress, in our next issue of Stirling Minds.

Photography by Curious Sloth Photography